You’ve probably heard or seen quite a bit about The Graduate Recruitment Fair happening this month. It’s one of The University’s biggest Careers Fairs and this year there will be over 140 exhibitors attending, offering local and national graduate jobs, further study courses and other opportunities for students graduating in 2016.
Now your exams are over (or almost over) and you can see a long, deadline-free summer stretching out before you, you might be wondering why on Earth you would want to give up two glorious days in June to go and speak to employers. (Especially when one of those days happens to be the day England play Wales in the Euros.) However, as someone who attended the Grad Fair only last year, I’m going to give you three reasons why it’s worth putting in an appearance on at least one of the two days of the Fair.
1. The Fair provides an opportunity to explore what’s out there.
After years and years in education, you may feel that you’ve been quite sheltered from the outside “real” world. A lot of the time students aren’t sure what they want to do after University simply because they’re not aware of what is out there to do.
There will be a wide range of employers attending the Grad Fair – some small, some large – working in a variety of sectors, from Finance and IT to Education, HR and Retail. Wandering around will offer a chance to get exposed to the world of work – the companies and industries out there and what they really do – and the range of options open to you.
If you’ve already got an idea of what sort of industry you want to work in or which companies you want to work for, you can find out more about the roles available within these fields or companies and see what the job would involve day-to-day.
There are also a number of Universities attending both days of the Fair, so you will be able to explore postgraduate study options too and find out if this could be the right next step for you.
2. Speaking to employer representatives face-to-face can improve your applications.
Imagine you’re really interested in a Management position with Abercrombie & Fitch. By chatting to one of their representatives at the Graduate Fair, you can find out what qualities a good Manager at Abercrombie & Fitch has and what activities and responsibilities the job encompasses. With this knowledge, you can tailor your application so that your CV and cover letter clearly demonstrate how the skills and experience you have make you the perfect fit for this Management role. Get the name of the employee you spoke to and reference this conversation in your cover letter (e.g. “After speaking to xxx at The Graduate Recruitment Fair in Manchester, I was really inspired by xxx about the role/company…”). This will reinforce your enthusiasm for the job and the company.
Not only that, but approaching employers can help you with your interview technique. To make a lasting impression during your conversations with company representatives, you need to succinctly summarise your previous experience of relevance to the role on offer and explain why you’re interested in this particular job/company. Before attending the Fair, make sure you’re aware of your strengths and the skills and experience you have to offer employers. (Worried you’ve not done enough? Part-time jobs, societies, volunteering and your degree are all CV-worthy. Give this blog post a read.) Rehearsing how you will introduce yourself, your experience and your motivations to company reps at the Fair will increase your self-awareness, providing a good foundation that you can build on when preparing for interviews.
3. You can get practical advice and support, whatever stage you’re at.
Along with a host of interesting and inspiring exhibitors, you will also find The Careers Service at the Graduate Fair. Chat through your options, ideas and worries with us and get practical advice on steps you can take next, whether you’ve got a clear career goal in mind or are still unsure about what you want to do after University.
If you’ve never been in touch with The Careers Service before, use this opportunity to get connected now, as you can access our services, support and events throughout the summer and for up to two years after graduating.
The Manchester Graduate Programme will be another feature of the Fair at Stand 58. This programme is exclusively for University of Manchester students and sources paid graduate-level roles based in Manchester. We advertise a variety of different roles with a range of organisations, from start-ups to multi-national firms, as well as positions within The University itself. If you want to stay in Manchester, are looking to gain some experience in a particular field, or would just like to give something a try, MGP could be the right next step for you.
The Graduate Recruitment Fair is next week on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 June, 10.30am-4.00pm at The Armitage Centre in Fallowfield. Some exhibitors are only appearing on one day of the Fair, so attending both will ensure you’re exposed to everything on offer. You don’t need to stay for the full day (but you can if you want to).
Register for your free tickets in advance here for faster entry on the day.